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Jamesfromdogriver

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I got my thingamajig in the mail yesterday. I looked up the calculator on line and it appears I need 10 BRIX to get a 5% beer doing all grain. My question is: Should I shoot for just 10 brix or maybe bump it up a little to end up with a a nice 5% pilsner? Thanks in advance.
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VikeMan

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...and choose a refractometer calculator to adjust your readings while you're at it, one that takes both pre- and post-fermentation readings and gives you adjusted gravities and ABV. Your "brix" readings, especially any taken after fermentation begins will be wrong without adjustment.

And maybe read "How to Brew."
 

odie

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Someone gave me one of those too...I get weird readings...well just don't understand brix. It has an SG scale too but I'm suspect of it...
 

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Someone gave me one of those too...I get weird readings...well just don't understand brix. It has an SG scale too but I'm suspect of it...
I had one with both scales on it early on. IIRC, they didn't actually match up correctly. I then bought ones with better ranges for what I brew (most often used the 0-20 brix due to more graduations). Vee Gee Scientific BTX-20 Handheld Refractometer, with Brix Scale, 0-20%, +/-0.1% Accuracy, 0.10% Resolution, 10 to 30 degree C ATC: Science Lab Refractometers: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific
I recently picked up a digital refractometer. It matched the reading I got from the manual one on first use. Well once I used it correctly at least. ;)

IME, the Vee Gee unit works well. It also feels solid in the hand, which helps. When I first started using it, I did match the readings to the hydrometer I was using. After getting same OG numbers a few times, I put the hydrometer away (don't know where it is now, or if I tossed it out). IME, if the refractometer doesn't feature ATC, it's pretty much worthless.

Being able to use tiny samples to get your OG/SG readings is a huge benefit.
 

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Yup - verify then trust.

I bought a refractometer after having bought a hydrometer. When measuring OG, they are within ± 2 of each other (close enough for me).
My cheap $20 refractometer from Amazon concurs with my hydrometer by about the same margin. Good enough.
 

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I have a relatively inexpensive “thingimajig” from Amazon and my biggest gripe is that I have to calibrate it (turn the set screw) before every use, resetting the baseline to 0 with water. To me this doesn’t make sense. If I calibrate it, put it away, then pull it out, why does it need to be adjusted? But hey.

I realize it’s not perfectly accurate but other than that, I think it’s close enough to meet my requirements.
 

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I guess more to your point, grain bill, mash temps and yeast strain will help us vaguely answer your question.
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

Jamesfromdogriver

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I have just about stomached all my last batch only 3 bottles left. It was nastiest yet but ass kicking. I have only did 3 batches so far. All ass kicking beers but just damn nasty to drink. I am glad I only do a gallon at the time. It's fun. Hoping this thingamajig will help me get my brew right.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I have a relatively inexpensive “thingimajig” from Amazon and my biggest gripe is that I have to calibrate it (turn the set screw) before every use, resetting the baseline to 0 with water. To me this doesn’t make sense. If I calibrate it, put it away, then pull it out, why does it need to be adjusted? But hey.
Yeah...I kinda found this out. I calibrated it when I got it, and figured that would mean it would be calibrated. After months of getting odd measurements I finally realized that I need to check the calibration with every reading. I have started to get in the habit of calibrating it at the start of the session. Then after a reading, I rinse it off with distilled water and verify that it is still calibrated.

I have mostly just used my refractometer for measurements during the brewing session to check that I am on target. I then used my hydrometer for a "real" OG and FG reading. If I can get reliable readings from my refractometer, I will start to use that more often.
 

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All ass kicking beers but just damn nasty to drink.
Are you controlling fermentation temperature?

Keeping the fermenting beer within the yeast's preferred temp range is highly important in preventing off-flavors, fusels, and the like.

Especially for bigger ass kicking beers, you want to aim for the low end of the temp range.
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

Jamesfromdogriver

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Well I just stick the beer in the pantry the house stays around 72 have central unit. I use safale05 everybody says that's the good stuff.
 

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I have a relatively inexpensive “thingimajig” from Amazon and my biggest gripe is that I have to calibrate it (turn the set screw) before every use, resetting the baseline to 0 with water. To me this doesn’t make sense. If I calibrate it, put it away, then pull it out, why does it need to be adjusted? But hey.

I realize it’s not perfectly accurate but other than that, I think it’s close enough to meet my requirements.
My not 'too damned cheap' refractometers have yet to need to be calibrated. I checked them when they arrived and they were dead nuts on. Still are about a decade later. But once, cry once, get quality to make your life EASIER. Or get cheap and have to fiddle with it until you have enough and then spend more on the quality item. End of the day, you end up spending MORE by going cheap the first time.

As for something being "nasty to drink" that doesn't narrow it down much. Different off flavors mean different things. I've only had one batch I tossed due to my chiller getting plugged (my own damned fault) and it sitting too long at high temps. Extracted too much AA from the hops and made it too bitter for me.
 

DBhomebrew

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Well I just stick the beer in the pantry the house stays around 72 have central unit. I use safale05 everybody says that's the good stuff.
That may be a bit too warm. Fermentation creates its own heat, putting the temp of the beer over ambient. Larger gravities will create even higher temps. Try finding a spot that's in the mid-60s.

How does the wort taste as it goes into the fermenter? Does it taste decent at that point in the process? Maybe rough, more bitter than you like, definitely too sweet. But it should taste good, no off-flavors.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I have just about stomached all my last batch only 3 bottles left. It was nastiest yet but ass kicking. I have only did 3 batches so far. All ass kicking beers but just damn nasty to drink. I am glad I only do a gallon at the time. It's fun. Hoping this thingamajig will help me get my brew right.
I have not figured out if you are a new brewer willing to learn, or just here to troll.

But good advice from VikeMan:

And maybe read "How to Brew."
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

Jamesfromdogriver

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I have not figured out if you are a new brewer willing to learn, or just here to troll.

But good advice from VikeMan:
I def aint no troll retired 68 year old got me some notion to make some brew like my grandfather did. Got plenty time on my hands. Just put me a pound of pilsen in 160 f water. 90 mins then i gonna play with my new toy.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I def aint no troll retired 68 year old got me some notion to make some brew like my grandfather did. Got plenty time on my hands. Just put me a pound of pilsen in 160 f water. 90 mins then i gonna play with my new toy.
Well good luck! I find it can be a bit harder to get quality 1-gallon batches than larger batches. I generally need about 2 lbs of grain to get around 1 gallon of a 1.050 wort (which will yield around a 5% ABV beer).

If you are actually mashing at 160F, you won't get the attenuation to hit 5%. About 152F is a good generic and safe mash temperature.
 

Ki-ri-n

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If you're adding grain to 160 water, your mash temp will be almost 20 degrees cooler depending on your mash tun temp, grain temp , etc. You'll need to start paying attention (or more attention) to all the brewing Variables if you indeed want to make better beer.
 

hout17

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Here's a recipe to try I know you were asking in another thread sounds like you like pilsner style beer of course this isn't true to style as we aren't lagering but should still be good. Add the honey when you are done boiling and stir it in. Your boil off rate may vary so take the boil size and post boil size with a grain of salt.

If you are using tap water I would also recommend treating your water with 1/8 of a crushed campden tablet.

Recipe: Honey Pilsner

Honey Pilsner.jpg


I would recommend mashing at 152°F for 60-90 minutes as recommended above. Put in your water stir the mash and check temps stir until you see it around 152.

Goodluck and goodluck with your refractometer!
 
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bracconiere

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I have not figured out if you are a new brewer willing to learn, or just here to troll.

well, wouldn't matter....just hanging around here and eaves dropping threads is informational, i've been brewing for 25 years, and get good ideas here and there just looking around!

and @Jamesfromdogriver if you're making stuff you can only stomach, as i do... might want to try out some porters and stouts! easy peasy!
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

Jamesfromdogriver

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That may be a bit too warm. Fermentation creates its own heat, putting the temp of the beer over ambient. Larger gravities will create even higher temps. Try finding a spot that's in the mid-60s.

How does the wort taste as it goes into the fermenter? Does it taste decent at that point in the process? Maybe rough, more bitter than you like, definitely too sweet. But it should taste good, no off-flavors.
I semi cooled it down and strained it into plastic bucket fermenter gonna let it sit a bit then check it with my new toy and give it a taste before adding the yeast. It was reading about 5 brix after the 90 min mash so I added a cup of Pilsen LME that bumped it up to 10. Gave it a nice dark color too.
 
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DBhomebrew

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I semi cooled it down and strained it into plastic bucket fermenter gonna let it sit a bit then check it with my new toy and give it a taste before adding the yeast. It was reading about 5 brix after the 90 min mash so I added a cup of Pilsen LME that bumped it up to 10. Gave it a nice dark color too.
There's a few best practices to follow when using a refractometer. Mostly, sample prep and temp control. No difference there whether refractometer or hydrometer. Then what to do with the reading.

Before taking a sample give your wort a really good mix. Unfermented wort, especially with extract, has a tendency to stratify. One spot may be more concentrated than another.

Then, be sure your sample and refractometer are roughly the same temp. Even with ATC, automatic temperature correction.

Next, use a refractometer calculator to translate Brix to Specific Gravity. Refractometers are designed to measure sucrose solutions. Wort has other types of sugars in it as well. 1.04 is a common default 'wort correction factor'.

Write down your prefermentation Brix reading and save it for two weeks from now. The refractometer calculator will use the Original Gravity reading and the apparent final reading to provide your actual Final Gravity and ABV.
 

bobtheUKbrewer2

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both refractometers and hydrometers are not accurate re final gravity due to presence of alcohol...
 

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both refractometers and hydrometers are not accurate re final gravity due to presence of alcohol...
It's always been said/known that hydrometers were not impacted by alcohol being present. Refractometer readings, once fermentation starts, need to be processed in order to offset that effect. There are sites/software/Excel spreadsheets that help you with that.

Even with that, I still prefer the refractometer for getting gravity readings due to ease of use and accuracy (when using a quality unit). IME, it's easier to get a reading with one than a hydrometer due to liquid sometimes rising up a hydrometer's stem.
 

VikeMan

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It's always been said/known that hydrometers were not impacted by alcohol being present.
Hydrometers readings are definitely affected by the presense of alcohol, which is less dense than water. But we don't adjust hydrometer FG readings before using them, because the standard beer ABV formulae that use OG and FG take that into account in their constants.

The reason for the refractometer calculators is that alcohol affects refractometers in a different way than it affects hydrometers, so the calculators have to estimate what the hydrometer reading would have been before computing ABV (using a standard beer ABV formula).
 

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Hydrometers readings are definitely affected by the presense of alcohol, which is less dense than water. But we don't adjust hydrometer FG readings before using them, because the standard beer ABV formulae that use OG and FG take that into account in their constants.

The reason for the refractometer calculators is that alcohol affects refractometers in a different way than it affects hydrometers, so the calculators have to estimate what the hydrometer reading would have been before computing ABV (using a standard beer ABV formula).
I've not used a hydrometer in about a decade. IME, it was always understood that you ran the numbers from the OG to FG, or entered into software to get your %ABV. IMO, if people don't understand that, they need to educate themselves so that they do.
 

VikeMan

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I've not used a hydrometer in about a decade. IME, it was always understood that you ran the numbers from the OG to FG, or entered into software to get your %ABV. IMO, if people don't understand that, they need to educate themselves so that they do.
All true. Was just correcting the statement that alcohol doesn't affect hydrometer readings.
 

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Speaking for myself, I'm new to the hobby, but my kits all have around the same amount of grain and generally result in the same amount of alcohol. The last few 5gal batches I don't bother checking OG or FG. Or just check FG to ensure its done.

People say "This is great beer! What percentage of alcohol is it?" - I tell them to shut up and drink.
 

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It's always been said/known that hydrometers were not impacted by alcohol being present.
What has always been said/known is not always correct. The presence of alcohol lowers the specific gravity in a water/ethanol mixture. Not nearly as its presence increases the refractive index, but it does affect the reading. At around 15% abv, the SG is dropped around 0.005. If your FG readings are all in the range of 5-8% abv, the drop is going to be about half that, and it will be nearly constant. Since it is a small effect, the easiest thing to do is ignore it with hydrometer readings. With refractometer readings, the effect is much more pronounced.

Hydrometers readings are definitely affected by the presense of alcohol, which is less dense than water. But we don't adjust hydrometer FG readings before using them, because the standard beer ABV formulae that use OG and FG take that into account in their constants.
I do not believe this is correct. The standard ABV formula, (OG - FG) X 131.25, is a simplistic approach that assumes the OG - FG factor equates to the percentage of sugar turned into alcohol. It is making an assumption that the FG taken by the hydrometer is an accurate measure of the sugar content, which it cannot be if there is alcohol present since the alcohol affects the reading. Another source of error comes from the fact that the equation is determining the weight percent alcohol (ABW), then converting that to volume percent alcohol (ABV), all with that 131.25 constant. This is assuming a linear relationship between ABW and ABV. It is well known that this relationship is not linear, but over the ranges used in beers, the error is also small.

These small errors are simply ignored with the hydrometer, since they are fairly constant and small errors. For Homebrewing, it really doesn't matter.

So, a post like:
both refractometers and hydrometers are not accurate re final gravity due to presence of alcohol...
is factually correct. The are presence of alcohol affects both. However, the hydrometer that reads specific gravity will accurately read the specific gravity, even in the presence of alcohol. The inaccuracy bobtheUKbrewer2 is talking about is using the FG reading as a measure of the sugar content.

The issue with the refractometer that needs to be understood to avoid confusion is that they measure the refractive index, but give a reading in Brix. That is, if you get a reading of 12 Brix with a refractometer, what the instrument is actually telling you is that the refractive index of the sample is the same as the refractive index of a 12% sucrose solution in water. It's the same with the SG readings from the refractometer (for those units that have that scale). If you get a reading of 1.048 with the refractometer, what it is telling you is that the refractive index of the sample is the same as the refractive index of a sucrose/water solution that has a SG of 1.048.

The refractometer is a great instrument, but it does introduce errors. The hydrometer does as well, but those introduced by the refractometer are so great that ignoring them leads to meaningless results, so they have to be corrected for (Wort Correction Factor - WCF, needing the OG to determine the FG when using a refractometer on fermented product). Even with correction, the errors with the refractometer is greater than those with the hydrometer, but for me and my brewing, the refractometer gets close enough much quicker, easier, and with a smaller sample. Furthermore, I have never broken a refractometer.
 

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Speaking for myself, I'm new to the hobby, but my kits all have around the same amount of grain and generally result in the same amount of alcohol. The last few 5gal batches I don't bother checking OG or FG. Or just check FG to ensure its done.

People say "This is great beer! What percentage of alcohol is it?" - I tell them to shut up and drink.
You should get in the habit of taking the gravity readings. If you are using extract, you are correct in that so long as you are using the amount of water called for, the OG readings should be what the kit says. Also, provided you are using the yeast the recipe was designed for and you have a good and healthy fermentation, the FG readings should be correct. So, the ABV stated for the kit should be fairly accurate.

However, if you start brewing all-grain, the OG reading is critical, since if you mess-up your mash, you will not have the amount of sugar you think you have, but will be totally unaware that anything is wrong. Likewise, the FG reading is important, not just to know the ABV, but it tells you if you are getting the attenuation you expect from the yeast. This also can be a result of how effective you mash was. This information is very helpful when you are trying to improve your brewing.
 

VikeMan

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Hydrometers readings are definitely affected by the presense of alcohol, which is less dense than water. But we don't adjust hydrometer FG readings before using them, because the standard beer ABV formulae that use OG and FG take that into account in their constants.
I do not believe this is correct. The standard ABV formula, (OG - FG) X 131.25, is a simplistic approach that assumes the OG - FG factor equates to the percentage of sugar turned into alcohol. It is making an assumption that the FG taken by the hydrometer is an accurate measure of the sugar content, which it cannot be if there is alcohol present since the alcohol affects the reading. Another source of error comes from the fact that the equation is determining the weight percent alcohol (ABW), then converting that to volume percent alcohol (ABV), all with that 131.25 constant. This is assuming a linear relationship between ABW and ABV. It is well known that this relationship is not linear, but over the ranges used in beers, the error is also small.

These small errors are simply ignored with the hydrometer, since they are fairly constant and small errors. For Homebrewing, it really doesn't matter.
The constant in the formula (131.25 or similar) absolutely does account for alcohol being lighter than water. The ABV formula could not give a reasonably accurate answer otherwise. And it does not assume that the FG reading is by itself an accurate measure of sugar content (without accounting for alcohol). Think about an FG of 1.000, i.e. 100% apparent attenuation. Real attenuation in this case is only about 82%. The formula "knows" (through the constant) that there are still sugars/dextrins. If it didn't, our ABV calculation (in this case) would be off by about 18%.

Put another way...if alcohol and water were of the same density, the ABV formula would need a different constant. Therefore, the constant accounts for alcohol density.
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

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Guys I added in half a pack of S05 9 o'clock last night temp of wort 95. Its 12 noon now and I got no action in the bubbler. Should I be worried?
 

VikeMan

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Guys I added in half a pack of S05 9 o'clock last night temp of wort 95. Its 12 noon now and I got no action in the bubbler. Should I be worried?
95F won't kill your yeast. But it will probably make a fusel alcohol mess, if you really did this.
 

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Guys I added in half a pack of S05 9 o'clock last night temp of wort 95. Its 12 noon now and I got no action in the bubbler. Should I be worried?
Yikes. Pitched at 95?! I don't know if it'll be ok.

Next time, get the wort temp down to the lower part of the yeast's range before pitching. Pitching and/or fermenting hot is a #1 cause of bad tasting beer.

If it's really tough for you to get the wort down to normal ale yeast range, you may consider kveik which prefers 80/90s.
 
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Jamesfromdogriver

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I have always pitch my wine yeast at around 95 and I have made some very nice wine and ciders. I know my way around wine. I just figured on doing beer like I do my wine. I will give it another day to see if she ramps up. I made the mistake of adding in more last batch and had a messy blow-off
 

VikeMan

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I have always pitch my wine yeast at around 95 and I have made some very nice wine and ciders. I know my way around wine. I just figured on doing beer like I do my wine.
95F is also too high for wine fermentations. But anyway, beer isn't wine. "How to Brew" would be a great way to learn the basics.

www.howtobrew.com
 

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